Hawaiians Trying to Cope With Lava That Won’t Stop Flowing

Hawaiians Trying to Cope With Lava That Won’t Stop Flowing
Concerned residents attend a community meeting in the aftermath of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island in Pahoa, Hawaii on May 7, 2018. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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Lava that keeps flowing after Hawaii’s Kilauea volcanic eruption is making residents anxious about when they might be able to return home.

The lava has already oozed through a dozen fissures and officials do not know when the flow will cease. Some residents have refused to follow evacuation orders. Other residents are being permitted by authorities to gather some belongings from their homes while taking shelter elsewhere. Some have already lost their homes. The lava has already destroyed 35 structures, 26 of which were homes.

The floor of a crater collapsed in Kilauea on April 30, sending lava back underground. That led to a series of earthquakes. A few days later the lava pushed up from underneath the ground, The Washington Post reported.

Residents of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens on Hawaii’s Big Island were ordered to evacuate. Many photos and videos of lava rolling down streets, even engulfing a car, have shown up on social media.

“We don’t have a good idea of how big it is and how long it’ll last,” said Tracy Gregg, associate professor of geology at the University of Buffalo, via the Post. “It could be a couple of days, a couple of weeks. It could be a couple of months. We just have to wait and see.”

Scientists are also unsure of where lava might next break through the surface, as it continues its underground journey.

“It’s kind of like a water pipe bursting underground. The pipe might burst in several places, but the water’s going to find the easiest pathway to get out, not necessarily above every single hole in the pipe,” said Gregg.

Residents are taking shelter in churches, Red Cross shelters, or are finding other means while they wait to see what will become of their homes. Many locals hold a spiritual viewpoint, and consider the current situation as being under the command of the goddess Pele.

“The way I kind of look at it is, the land doesn’t really belong to us. It belongs to Pele,” said Jordan Sonner, an evacuee, told The Post. “We get to live on it while we can, and if she wants it back, she’ll take it. I have good insurance.”


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